Dealing With Detractors
The good news is that I have a very thick skin. I don’t need people to like me. And I can brush off the name calling. But the goal here isn’t to have enemies. The goal is to try and bring people around to a different way of thinking about food and restaurants.
When someone gets angry about something I did because they disagree with it, I think it can be a great opportunity. Let’s talk it out. I’ll listen to you and have a chance to share my side. I’m not trying to be a jerk on purpose. Sometimes things come out wrong or are taken the wrong way. Or occasionally I’ll leave out a critical piece of context.
I mention all of these things because after the Real Actors Read Yelp video was featured on Table Hopping, there seemed to be a referendum on my existence in the comments thread of the most read food blog in the region.
Here is what some of my detractors had to say and my responses:
Aaron was surprised by the tone of the review itself:
Frankly, I am surprised Mr. Fussy doesn’t carry his own silverware around with him. And to be fair, I like reading the Fussy Little Blog, but this review seems a bit over the top.
Part of the reason I don’t carry my own silverware around with me is that I look forward to seeing what each restaurant has in store. Silverware is important. And it’s one of those things that Cafe Capriccio gets wrong (but it’s been awhile since I’ve been, perhaps it’s better now).
But he’s right. This review was a bit over the top. And I was well aware of that as I was writing. The full review on Yelp even has a warning statement before I launch into the tirade about the spoon. I knew full well that there was no way of delivering this criticism without sounding like a “petulant primadonna.” Still, those spoons were so poorly designed, I couldn’t let it go.
uhhhh has a different read on what it means to have a review selected by RARY…
FINALLY this Daniel B. character gets his come-uppance. He is painful!
and aparently Roz does too
Gotta love Karma!
Wow. Maybe if I took myself more seriously I might feel a sense of shame, or perhaps that I was being mocked or humiliated. But I don’t. I’ve been a huge fan of these web videos since they started. And to have my words chosen by the producers, read by a talented actress, and bring joy and laughter to thousands is exceptionally gratifying.
Parma Ham has a good point about tone that I want to explain:
“I don’t live in Troy so I don’t need this place to succeed”. The arrogance. His review was meant as a joke right?
The intro to this review sounds bad. What’s missing in the video is the context of Yelp.com. At the time of the writing, Dante’s was enjoying a significant amount of rave reviews from people who were simply overjoyed just to have a place in Troy to hang out in the evening. It’s exactly this kind of blind and rabid local boosterism that I consider to be damaging to the region, and have tried to push hard against. My primary purpose in the opening line was to call attention to the fact that as a non-resident of Troy I could be a bit more objective. But it was also to call attention to those other high value reviews, and cast some doubt on their validity.
zack is mostly right, but his timing is a bit off:
At this point Daniel appears to completely own his self-titled “fussy” moniker
Yes, I completely own my “self-titled ‘fussy’ moniker”. But I owned it years ago when I started the blog. And really I’ve been owning it my whole life. I have some really strong and very specific food preferences, and I recall them going as far back as pre-school. It’s less that I own the moniker as much as it is that the moniker owns me.
I have the feeling that Miss Blankenship is being a bit sarcastic:
I love reading Daniel B’s reviews as amusing examples of food fetishism. And did you know he used to live in Northern California?
It seems like a long time since I’ve been accused of wanting the Capital Region to be a clone of the SF Bay Area. That’s not true. There is a lot about food around here that I have come to love. But that doesn’t mean that I think there are things here that couldn’t be improved.
Commenter has confounded me with a pejorative I don’t quite get:
This perfectly captures the douchbaggery that is TheFussyLittleBlog.
470 Yelp reviews? Are you kidding me? Get a job buddy!
I thought the douchebags were those frat-house jock guys who all dress the same and ironically watch my little pony videos. I thought they were the yang to the hipsters ying. How the video of one admittedly over the top review captures anything about the FLB is beyond me. Specific criticisms are generally more productive than broad swaths of hate.
But yes, I do have 470 Yelp reviews. That number should really be higher, but I’ve slowed down a lot in the last couple of years. In the past 12 months I only wrote 22. But I’ve been busy, what can I tell you.
Jane Doe has an interesting notion about life before the Internet:
Just think – before Yelp, Fussyboy would have to actually explain his little spoon problem face-to-face with the proprietor of Dante’s. And being that this establishment is located in Troy, we can assume he would have has his Fussy Little ass handed to him in true Collar City style. Sigh.
Really what probably would have happened is that I would have left and never returned again. Instead I provided a specific piece of constructive criticism. Afterwards the yogurt shop changed it’s spoons. Now, not only have I updated my review to reflect a more positive experience, but I’ve returned multiple times and am now the Duke of Dante’s on Yelp.
Victor Campana wants to confirm a bit of history.
Is this the guy that was so helpful, offering to tell everyone how to fill out their “Best Of” ballots, so we wouldn’t have to worry that the wrong places winning ?
Yes. Yes I am. And to a certain extent last year I succeeded and thankfully Subway lost its iron grip on being the “Best Sandwich in the Capital Region.” If you don’t think that was a case of the wrong place winning, we should have a longer talk.
Parma Ham linked to one of my reviews on Stewart’s and then asked this:
At what point in one’s day does this get written?
Writing is my leisure activity. It used to be video games. So now instead of staying up late at night fragging with people around the world via Xbox Live, I stay up late and fire off a post or a couple of reviews every now and again.
Grrrrrrrr may not have a future as a professional restaurant critic:
O.M.G! So the shape of the bowl in which the froyo is served is questioned as to how the spoon and froyo feels in his mouth? Effen ridonkydonk if you ask me.
Not ridonkydonk at all. Mouthfeel is important on a lot of levels. Textures play a keen role in the enjoyment of food, and that extends to the implements that we use at the table. A three-star Michelin restaurant isn’t going to put a fork on the table that has a bent tine, nor will they serve wine a glass with a thick rim.
Strick9 may not have actually seen The DIning Issue of the Albany Business Review:
The Albany Business Review is certainly going downhill if they are concerned with following influential “foodies” (I hate that term) like Mr. Fussy on the local restaurant scene and ranking them. Ridiculous – Are they still in high school or what?
There were no rankings in the “Foodies worth following online” feature. In fact the blurb describing the FLB was short and sweet, “Daniel Berman’s active little blog with the ambitious goal of raising the standards for the culinary scene in Albany.” But they nailed it.
Buck Peterman reconsidered the word douchebag and offered this to describe me instead:
Would pompous, self aggrandizing jerk, be a more appropriate description?
Yes, it would totally be more appropriate. But given that I don’t see myself in those terms, a few specific examples would go a long way to show me where you think I’ve crossed the line.
On this point though, I totally agree with Parma Ham:
You are concerned with how Daniel will feel when he reads things written about himself on the Internet? Do you know how many small business owners have had to read negative things that he’s written about them? I agree that businesses open themselves up to this kind of thing when they go into business but the same applies to those who choose to publicly blog/criticize.
For those who spoke up in my defense, I totally appreciate the fact that you’ve got my back. It’s great to have people sing your praises when others are calling you nasty names. But names don’t hurt me. I’ve echoed the sentiment before that those who live by the sword, die by the sword. I’m cool with that. If everybody agreed with everything I wrote, there wouldn’t be much point in putting in the effort.
Changing minds isn’t easy. I can’t say that I know how to do it, but I’m going to try my best. All the work hasn’t been in vain. I know that I’ve reached people and gotten them to care about food in a new way. Plus, I’m tenacious as hell. I have no plans to stop. And in some ways I feel like I’m just getting started. So watch out.